How to behave in case of chemical pollution?

In case of an accident when dangerous chemical substances spread into the environment, or when there is an immediate threat of chemical contamination, Civil Protection Signal “Chemical alert” is declared. This alert is transmitted through all public information measures.  Therefore, turn on radio and television in order to receive updates and recommendations.

Note that:

  • in case of chemical contamination it is important to respond very fast;
  • dangerous chemical substances are particularly volatile and severely irritate respiratory pathways, eyes and skin, therefore, it is essential to protect these parts very carefully;
  • it is forbidden to eat, drink or smoke if you are in the territory contaminated with dangerous chemical substances.

If residents are informed to leave the contaminated districts or city parts:

  • Immediately put mask or respirator (if have such) or use gauze-cotton band. If you do not have such items - cover your nose and mouth with a sleeve, scarf or wet towel;
  • Put on protective clothes (water repellent/resistant jackets, raincoats, polythene raincoats), wear boots, put gloves and cap, wrap neck with a scarf, avoid leaving uncovered body parts;
  • Leave the contaminated zone to the destination indicated as soon as possible avoiding low places (upwind direction);
  • Do not hide in cellars, hollows, trenches or other low places since they accumulate dangerous substances;
  • Try not to raise dusts, not touch walls, fences or other things which may contain drops of dangerous substances while going through contaminated location;
  • Do not eat, drink, smoke or touch eyes and mouth.

Before leaving home (or other premises):

  • Shut off gas, electricity and water valves;
  • Lock doors, close windows and air vents, cover chimneys, air vents and other holes;
  • If you live in a rural area, pen livestock and tightly close them. Make sure that animals have enough water and fodder to stay for 2-3 days;
  • Cover wells if any;
  • Do not forget your neighbours and ask if they are informed about the situation. Your neighbours may belong to vulnerable groups: the disabled, the elderly or children. Ask if there are people who can take care of them, if not – help them or inform about the situation by calling emergency number 112.

If you have left contaminated zone, before entering clean premises, take off your outerwear, take off jewelry, take off shoes and put all these items into plastic bag. While taking off the clothes, avoid touching outside (external surface of garments) since there may be chemicals left on it. After taking off your clothes, wrap it by leaving its internal part outside (i.e. wrong side out). Do not take off your clothes over your head, it is better to cut your clothes so that spread of chemicals would be avoided. If possible, wash them with water or washing supplies. If not – leave the bag out of the clean territory.

If chemicals get on your skin or hair, immediately wash it with a great amount of water with soap. If you experience burning eyes or vision worsens – wash eyes with running water for 10-15 minutes. If you wear contact lenses, take it out and put together with contaminated clothes. Do not wear these lenses anymore. If you wear glasses – wash it with water and soap, after such cleaning you can wear it again;

If residents are told to stay at home:

  • protect respiratory tract – cover nose and mouth with cotton-gauze bandage or cover respiratory tract with a wet towel;
  • shut off valves of gas, electricity and water immediately;
  • tightly close front doors, windows and air vents;
  • cover chimneys, ventilation and other air vents;
  • ascend to upper floors since a great number of hazardous chemicals accumulate in lower places;
  • do not smoke and eat;
  •  follow further information about an incident.

LIST OF NECESSARY ITEMS IN CASE OF EVACUATION:

  • First aid kit. Bear in mind daily taken medicines;
  • Documents (passport, birth certificate and marriage certificate, diploma, property documents);
  • Money (cash, credit cards, securities, valuables);
  • A few photos of family members;
  •  Food and drinking water (to survive for 2-3 days). If you take pets together – make sure to take some pet food;
  • Needed clothes (considering the season);
  • Toiletries;
  • Portable radio and flashlight, spare batteries (elements);
  • Notebook with indicated phone numbers and addresses;
  • A few favourite toys for children.

Ammonia, chlorine and mercury are most frequently used chemical substances causing potentialdanger.

Ammonia – pungent odour gas, which is lighter-than-air. In case of an accident, ammonia vapours in 10-15 minutes. Its compound may explode due to spark and inflame from open flame).

Symptoms of ammonia poisoning:

  • Itching and running eyes;
  • Cough attack;
  • Vertigo;
  • Stomachache, nausea, vomit;
  • Feeling of anxiety, jactitation;
  • Lost consciousness;
  • Start of convulsion.

First aid

  • Immediately call emergency number 112;
  • Go out and take victim out of the contaminated premises;
  • Undo victim’s collar, ensure that he/she would get fresh air;
  • If victim is unconscious, lay him/her down on side and keep a close watch so that the victim would not choke (if vomit starts).
  • If breathing or heart stops – perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (only if you are able to provide such assistance).
  • First aid provider should have protective measures;
  • If ammonia vapours gets into eyes, immediately wash it with slight water or physiological saline spout. Washing should last no shorter than 5-10 minutes;
  • Gargle mouth and throat with water or physiological saline.

Chlorine – pungent odour gas, having colour of greenish-yellow, about 2.5 times as heavier than air. It accumulates in low places, tunnels, wells and may keep for a few days. Inhalation or contact with skin can be dangerous:

  • Irritates airways (respiratory organs);
  • Causes dry cough and choke;
  • Pain in thorax;
  • Irritates mucous membranes of eyes, causes eye itching and watering;
  • Causes nausea;
  • Disturbs movements;
  • Burns skin if there is a contact;
  • In case of great concentration of chlorine, a person starts to choke and dies.

First aid

  • Immediately call emergency number 112;
  • It is necessary to put a mask on a person who have suffered from chlorine vapour or a mask of European Standard with letter B. If there are no possibilities to put a mask, gauze-cotton string moistened with 2% drinking soda solution may be appropriate as well. The victim should be carried out from the contaminated zone.
  • When a victim is in the fresh air, take off respiratory mask, undo clothes which may disturb breathing, then lay him/her down and cover the victim;
  • Mouth, nose and eyes should be washed with water;
  • Open body parts should be washed with water for 10-15 minutes;
  • If breathing and heart stop - perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (only if you are able to provide such assistance).
  • The provider of assistance should have protection measures (wearing a mask or cotton gauze bandage).

Mercury

Toxic metal, which vapours at room temperature. The higher the temperature, the bigger concentration of mercury gets into the environment. Its vapours get into human through airways, gut, skin and mucous membranes. In case a human inhales mercury, it gets into blood through lungs, accumulates in kidney, liver and brain.

What to do if a mercury thermometer breaks?

If you break a thermometer and mercury spills on the table or floor, do not try to clean it with wiper – mercury will spread broader and you increase its evaporation surface.

In order to collect mercury: prepare a bottle with water and tight plug (cork), have a stick/dropper (wooden or vitreous), rubber pump, envelope or strong paper sheet, tape or paper sheet with some glue, 0,2% potassium permanganate solution (2g potassium permanganate per 1l water).

The biggest mercury balls should be collected by stick moving the balls into an envelope or just by pouring them into a bottle.

Rubber pump is helpful in order to suck smaller balls, while the smallest mercury balls could be picked by sticky tape or simply glued paper.

All mercury balls collected should be placed into a bottle with water and heat-sealed.

Use potassium permanganate solution for cleaning the surface on which mercury was spilled. The premises should be well cleaned and ventilated. After that you must wash your hands and face with soap, rinse your throat and wash clothes.

Address to emergency services regarding the transfer of item in which you put the collected mercury balls.

What to do in case of mercury spill?

Immediately call emergency number 112.

Note: you can come back to affected premises only after receiving evaluation (permission) from National Public Health Center under the Ministry of Health or its correspondent department.

 

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